Posted on September 27, 2013 · Posted in South East

On 16th September 2013, a talk was be given by Paul Bates, Network Rail’s Thameslink High Capacity Infrastructure Project Director, and Mike Jacob, First Capital Connect’s New Trains Project Manager.

Paul Bates, Network Rail’s Thameslink High Capacity Infrastructure Project Director, started off by talking members through the objectives of the Thameslink programme; namely to reduce overcrowding on LU, LO and (existing) Thameslink services, improve public transport access in the South East and provide more opportunities for interchange.  To this accord, Paul pointed out that running 12-car trains and 24 tph through the core will deliver a 250% increase in capacity.

One of the major problems with Thameslink is how to design a railway to cater for such a wide variety of passengers; from commuters to tourists and day-trippers to the Capital.  Paul then showed a fascinating time-lapse video of London Bridge station during the morning and evening peaks, showing the sheer volume of trains and passengers on the network.  Members were then talked through the new track layout, including the much-anticipated Bermondsey dive-under and how this will help cater for increased train frequencies in the future.

Using lessons learnt from the Cambrian, Paul explained briefly how the ATO systems will be set up and signalled – with the 70 metre blocks giving the operational practicalities normally associated with moving block systems.  We were also told how various operational scenarios can be tested on a simulator.

Mike Jacob, FCC’s New Trains Project Manager, gave a brief overview of the evolution of the Siemens Desiro and how this had culminated in the a 20% weight-saving for Class 700.  The order for 1140 vehicles places an emphasis on capacity whilst retaining the need to adhere to stringent European crashworthiness standards.  Mike explained how the challenge of running 24 tph through the core requires accurate stopping distances, 45-second dwell times, automatic door opening and even automatic AC/DC changes – quite a feat!  Mike also talked members through the cab layout of the ‘Desiro City’ and its unique (for a commuter train) central driving position.

Questions from the floor including asking whether the core would platform-edge doors, like the Jubilee Line extension, but this was said to be outwith the scope of the project.  Members also enquired about deceleration rates – an impressive 13% G during an Emergency Brake application!